Nigeria Quicksand Experiment
Nde-ewo! Welcome to our Expedition Earth Nigeria quicksand experiment.
Quicksand is a soupy mixture of sand and water where sand is floating in and on the water. It is both a solid and a liquid at the same time, making it a trap to moving animals and people. Quicksand occurs when water has flooded an area of sand and then is trapped in that area. Floods, underground springs, or an earthquake can create ideal environments for quicksand which usually occurs around river beds. In this activity, we will make our own quicksand to get a feel of how it can be fluid and solid at the same time.
I mentioned it in the full Nigeria activity post, but I have this super cool friend who does a “Boys Science” day each month for a group of little guys. And since my poor son is the only boy surrounded by girls all day, he loves to get out and do “man stuff”.
My friend is a brave lady who always comes up with super fun stuff for them to do. Little did I know she had a whole Nigeria quicksand day planned, and how cool that we just studied Nigeria! So with her permission, I stayed to take pics, and boy am I glad I did, it was so cool! And even cooler that it wasn’t in my kitchen ;o) wink, wink.
She started off by reading Lake of the Big Snake by Isaac Olaleye. It’s totally great for boys, there’s an anaconda, monkey, quicksand, and a moral to obey your parents for the mom’s out there who like to sneak in a character lesson here and there.
Next we went into her well plastic covered dining area. Each boy received a box of cornstarch, a mixing bowl, a spoon, a cup of water, and a couple army men. It was then that I realized we didn’t have any army men in our house of all girls. Poor dude. I immediately petitioned for a bag. We’re still waiting. I’m sure she’s getting them round up for us.
So we started by adding 1/4 bag of cornstarch and 1/2 cup of water. Then stirred it with a spoon as best we could.
Then you just repeat that process of adding a little cornstarch and a little water and mixing until the whole box of cornstarch is used and you’ve got a consistency somewhat like honey. Notice we ditched the spoon.
Whatever you do, don’t get your spoon stuck and then try to yank it out forcefully…I’m just sayin’.
Next we did our official quicksand experiment. Quicksand is a mixture of In the book, the boy laid flat on his back to paddle out of the quicksand, so we tried two army guys. One laying down and one standing up. Sure ‘nuf, the dude laying down floated, and the one standing sank to the bottom! Lesson learned.
Just like quicksand this mixture is a liquid and solid at the same time. As you can see below, if you swirl your finger around on in it, you can actually pull it away from the pan because it’s ‘dry’ on the bottom. To mimic quicksand, we stuck our fingers in it and tried to pull them out. It was cool to actually “feel” the quicksand pulling down on our hands.
Since it is a solid at the same time it is a liquid we were able to grab it, form it into a ball then watch it melt right before our very eyes. This was hard to get a picture of because the mixture melts almost immediately, but totally cool to do in person!
Here’s the “Slap Test”. We poured the mixture into a flat cookie sheet then smacked it with our hands flat. It’s hard as a rock, so weird! Note: if you do this test and it splatters all over your kitchen, then you know to add more cornstarch…and you also know to do it outside next time ;o)
And the “Punch Test”. Hit the quicksand with your fist. Notice how the liquid matter isn’t splattering all over my iPhone. Again, proper mixing is critical here.
Then we just stepped back and let the boys play for awhile…fine, I admit it, the moms played too. Then my mom called to see where I was and we realized that it was dinner time, swim lessons time and all 3 of us moms had to be at church for a homeschool curriculum sale! Oops…Apparently time DOES fly when you’re having fun!
And finally, and this is important, DO NOT POUR MIXTURE DOWN DRAIN! Instead, grab a hose, line up dirty people, and shower off. Boys like this. Notice the mom is messy too. We couldn’t resist. You wont’ be able to either.
They ended the day with some West African Benne Cakes. Recipe is coming shortly, these were yummy!
Now…if you’re still reading…I’d like to just say that I know this looks messy. It is. But it’s also SUPER cool. And fun. And isn’t that what homeschooling is about? So if you’re afraid to try it at home, don’t be. Or call your friend and make it seem like her idea, then invite yourself over. Either way, do it! You’ll have a blast!
And that wraps up the super-awesome-messiest-boy day ever!
Click here to learn more about my Expedition Earth World Geography curriculum!